I remained myself, but God let the scales fall from my eyes so I could receive a language, a vocabulary through which I could recognize and describe my experience.
Here’s the short story: I found a way to become more authentic to myself.
And ohhh…. oh, some of it all makes sense now. Looking back, my life is thick with dramatic irony.
To celebrate this path that God has led me through, here are 21 (hopefully innocent and lighthearted) queer things about my early life.
1. I thought Oreo was the masculine version of my name.
I was probably around four years old, so it was one of my earlier memories.
I kept looking around the basement room of our church — why were they calling my name?
Eventually I realized that I was a cookie.
2. Like many others, I cried because of the fact I wasn’t born a boy.
It made me jealous, and angry, and sad, and frustrated.
I kept weighing the pros and cons of each gender, and never felt settled on the matter after years and years of thinking.
Actually, the patriarchy benefits nobody: neither male, female, or anybody else. It’s a broken system (Gen. 3:16) that groans for the unity and peace established in heaven.
But even without that burden, inside any idealized notions of gender I could have conceived, I wanted to break free.
3. Not minding any pronouns.
I heard “they” pronouns apply to me for the first time when two people on my school bus were admiring the art I had given to the bus driver. She would always tape them up on the strip above the windows. I enjoyed the anonymity of being “between” genders.
Yet, when I overheard conversations between other people, I always thought “she” might have referred to me.
And another time, when someone called me “sir” in China, then quickly corrected themselves, I also didn’t mind. In fact, it made me a bit giddy!
4. I had a very confused fashion sense.
I had no inclination to “perform” femininity or identify with it. I also “decided” to hate pink.
But the (somewhat sorry) result? Every day, I stuck to a ponytail, baggy t-shirt, and sneakers. I had no color coordination or sense of what I wanted to buy. I made little progress in this area for years.
5. I low-key had a crush on everyone.
Wow, that’s beautiful… and that… and that’s hot… and cute…
That’s why I don’t have “types.”
But I kept all those feelings to myself. If twenty-one year old me still can’t articulate them, how could a kid have done the same?
6. My bodybuilding phase.
Wanting muscles. But still wanting curves. Somehow, my ideal body balanced a triangle torso with an hourglass figure; was slim, yet bulky — and how does that exist in real life??? It really messed up my self perception, and was perhaps a factor in developing ED.
7. Yeah, leather jackets and Docs were a thing for me.
Nerd, jock, rocker, artist, punk, emo, biker… I wanted to be them all. God knows I wanted to integrate myself into every subculture.
(Anything but the mainstream.)
8a. I felt flattered by the crooning of both male and female singers.
Bass, tenor, alto, or soprano?
I didn’t have a preferred vocal range. I loved deep, profound voices, the rich middle range, and the virtuosity of the voices that soared octaves above my own.
Like Odysseus tied to the mast, I’ve been enraptured by everyone from Maria Callas to Jeff Buckley.
8b. I felt okay with singing along with any love song.
I mean, most of us are okay with that. But with an assumed “no-homo” social permit.
However, with the music world dominated by heterosexual love, I noticed that I could “inhabit” the male voice as well as I could the female voice. At the same time (see 8a), I would simultaneously feel like the subject.
Subconsciously, I didn’t mind the idea of singing to a beautiful man any more or less than I would to a beautiful woman. And I didn’t mind the idea of a beautiful man or woman singing to me.
9. I never wore a bra.
I like to let them hang 99% of the time, and keep them secured only when absolutely necessary. I don’t find any need to either sexualize or completely hide them. This has always been the case.
10. My Pinterest search inquiries would include terms such as “butch,” “androgyny,” “gender-bending,” “women-in-suits,” and “tomboy” and men’s fashion.
Ha ha, I know I’m not a lesbian, I just… like their fashion?
Nobody taught me these terms. As I decided what I liked, and focused on particular styles that appealed to me, I began to notice the captions would include these particular words and phrases. Suddenly, my personality and style had words that other people could understand and embody!
I recognized myself, but I couldn’t identify my own recognition.
And of course, I experienced a constant pull towards menswear. I would look up men’s hairstyles and imagine them on my own head, and I would borrow my dad’s clothes.
Oh, the dramatic irony is FIERCE.
11. And Ruby Rose.
Should I leave an image of them here? Nah, go find out for yourself.
12. I looked up “queer” as a synonym for “eccentric” to describe myself.
I decided I liked how that word sounded. Internally, I claimed it.
This was before I fully knew the social implications of that word.
13. I never felt more euphoric than the day I chopped off all my hair.
Before I did, I had a phase where I wore a hat every day to cover it.
I realized that this haircut was long overdue.
14. My fashion sense remained very strange.
Strange, or shall we say queer?
Flannels, bandanas, pocket watches, collared shirts, ties, newsboy and bowler hats and berets — I tried many questionable combinations.
15. I felt a mismatch in the mirror. I wondered how I’d look as a boy.
I’m actually well proportioned, if I say so myself. But it’s uncomfortable in my skin sometimes.
Even when I couldn’t pick out actual flaws, I thought my features were too soft.
I tried to draw it out, too. Time after time, I’d look up male facial features and superimpose them over my own.
(Nowadays, we have Snapchat filters that automatically — and problematically — attempt this function.)
16. Then I told my barber to cut my hair even shorter.
This was met with a lot of reluctance.
I half-lied and said it was because I wouldn’t have to come back so often to get it done.
So he told me he would cut it to the extent where I could retain a feminine look.
Then my family pressured me to grow it out.
A year later, fed up, I got my own buzzer and began doing it on my own.
The rest, as they say, is history.
17. My favorite musical was Rent.
“The opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation.”
Out of all the musicals I enjoyed, this one stood out to me.
18. Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky, and Whitman were my heroes.
There are more to add to this list.
I didn’t care that the artists who produced work in which I could burrow and love and find comfort in, were gay, or bi.
19. I cannot describe an ideal future partner.
Where to even begin? For the life of me, I have standards, but no parameters.
20. I am perpetually confused whether I actually like someone or just want to look like them.
Some of you will know what I mean.
21. I attended Wellesley College.
AKA a hotspot for queer activity. (It’s not really a women’s college.)
These funny, awkward memories aside, I’m thankful to be OUT.
God called me out of the grave, out of darkness and shame. Since He gave me this rainbow coat, I will wear it.
I’m happy to not be cis-het. Though others may see it otherwise, God made me a unique expression of His love. So I shall be unapologetic for the image He has given me to bear.
It’s never been about me or my wishes. I live to glorify and worship the Lord. He desires to hear my voice, and delights in taking mercy on my soul.
I’ve lived through so much, yet eternity is still ahead. For now we see through a glass darkly, but the best is yet to come.
Hey Gloria, Happy Birthday. This world has space for you. Stretch out your wings, and sing.